This week's note from Rev. Bill
PHOTOGRAPHY, ENGRAVING, AND HOROSCOPES
What do these things have to do with each other? In our exploration of the Ten Commandments, I am encouraging us to look beyond just memorizing the words, but to look at the intent behind them.
When you get something “Engraved”, you usually think about carving something into or upon a surface, usually to identify it if it is ever stolen. But another definition is “the process of cutting or carving a design upon a hard surface, so as to make a print.” (Oxford Languages online dictionary)
Photography itself is engraving – the process of layering up silver (in black-and-white prints) is an engraving! And even though it is very small scale, printing a picture upon a piece of paper can also be considered engraving – layering different thicknesses of ink!
The idea is to be able to capture a moment in time and to have it present with you whenever you want to bring it out. This in itself is not bad – but it can become an “idol” in the following way:
Suppose you have a picture of yourself in top physical condition – maybe when you were in your twenties, out at the beach and looking very fit. You bring it out now and then to remember your youth and how good you looked.
But how you used to look, in that moment in time, can become an idol! If you start looking in the mirror now and noticing all of the grey hairs and wrinkles and skin discolorations, you can become discontented with yourself and start beating yourself up inside!
You have, in essence, made your 20-year-old self an idol! That was the perfection that you had achieved, and now you’ve lost it never to be found again!
The problem is you may have forgotten all of the other issues that were going on at that time. You might have been in a bad marriage; you may have been secretly longing after someone else’s job; you might have been addicted to alcohol or success or other people’s opinion of you. Your idolization of “what used to be” covers up a lot of sins that also happened to be at that time!
God warns us against worshiping idols, because they are stuck in time. They are things that we give more power to than they actually have. We serve a living, breathing God who walks with us along our journey, not one who is stuck in the past or off in a distant future. We have a God who responds to us, and asks us to respond with Him.
This brings us to horoscopes – the idea that somehow, planets and stars and solar systems trillions of miles away from us can be used to predict our future. It’s a form of idolatry – putting our hope in something that is fixed and immovable.
God is not immovable. We find time and again in the scriptures when the prayers of God’s people moved God to work. They didn’t try to control God, but they asked plaintively for God’s help.
Religion would be easier if we could take out God whenever we wanted to, ask Him a request, and put Him away when we got what we wanted. But that’s not how God works – God invites us into a partnership with Him, and sometimes will tell us “No”.
Horoscopes can’t give you a real future. Pictures don’t tell the true story of what was happening at the time. Idols are designed to be brought out and put away whenever we feel like it.
But God wants to walk with us.